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Warmhearted Wisdom from the Woman Who said Color Outside the Lines

This weekend we, in the United States (as it is a different date in other countries), celebrate a day dedicated to mothers and maternal figures. It also is fitting that we, multi-tasking women, share Mother’s Day with a number of graduation celebrations across the country.

For the past couple years, Mother’s Day has been bittersweet as I am sure it is for most people whose moms passed away much too soon. She, who I called Mom, and our kids called Mimi, intuitively knew I was way too serious-minded at times.

She was the inspiration for me to write ZagZig Parenting, a collection of stories that poked fun at my own parenting (mis)adventures, as both a way to help me see the humor in the moment, and to help other parents find the funny side and to not feel alone in their own moments of chaos.

When I experienced a self-imposed crisis in my early years, Mom repeatedly told me to just wait until I got wisdom in my 40’s. While everyone else dreaded their 40th birthday I celebrated it, envisioning the magic-wisdom fairy bestowing me with a good dose of insight and astuteness that made me as wise as she was.

Years after that day, and I do mean years, the learning continues to slowly trickle in and I remain in the “wisdom-warp,” the land of discovering, as I age, there is so much that I really don’t know. I have created a wall of Mom sayings in my house that keep her close and remind me not to take myself too seriously, which was one of her gifts. I share some of those with you here, and hope they make you smile:

Mom encouraged creativity and thinking outside the box. While she was known for her “wardrobe” of white shirts and tan or navy blue pants, she loved the color of life and non-conformity. When I worried about going beyond the lines on a coloring page, she said, “Color outside the lines. Lines are just suggestions.” She also declared, “It is art. The sky can be green and the grass can be blue.”​

Mom was left handed (along with only about 10% of the population) and raised at a time when schools attempted to “correct” a left-handed preference. She celebrated that uniqueness and shared her wisdom about it when she proclaimed, “Just think about it like a left hander would."

Mom also had an eclectic taste in music, well actually the chorus of a number of songs that she would sing at certain times as her advice. If she did not get the words right, that was okay too (for her).

  • “Always look on the bright side of life.” – Monty Python

  • Don’t Worry, Be Happy.” – Bobby McFerrin

  • Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da, life goes on, bra… LA LA how the life goes on.” -The Beatles

  • What a Wonderful World…” – Louis Armstrong

It is not that she lived immune from heartache or mishaps. She just chose to see the bright side and beauty in all, even in a pile of trash. On road trips as kids, mom would draw our attention to a massive mound of garbage or man-made hills covering some earthly blemish, and told us that a sleeping giant was buried under there and the mound disguised his belly.

At the time, I did not even think twice what would happen when the sleeping giant awoke. I enjoyed the idea of finding a giant, and the bigger the mound, the better.

In the spirit of this warmhearted woman and her wisdom, I am relearning to embrace the sleeping giant. I am not suggesting burying what is deep beneath the surface. I am saying that all will awake in due time, which takes me to Mom’s other favorite go-to song, Hakuna Matata, or rather no worries for the rest of your days.

Happy Mother’s Day and wishes for a worry-free day filled with love and laughter!

For more mom stories, read ZagZig Parenting: (Mis) Adventures of a Career-Driven Mom and a Stay-At-Home Dad.

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